THE MINISTRY OF KARLTON BANKS: IMPLICATIONS FOR WORSHIP & RE-TELLING
NotKarltonBanks' ability to pack so much humor, history, culture/sociology, and black church theology into 15-30 seconds continues to astound me. It's #BRILLIANT stuff. There's something about what he does that is attractive. It compels people. There's something in his creativity that hits at the root of our (church) identity. There's something about his ability to instantly transport us back to the days when we (unwillingly) sang in the Sunshine Band at our church. There's something distinct and yet universal in his choice of characters that he portrays in these comedic episodes. I think there's a lot we can learn from his approach to ministry. What he does is more than just "funny videos." He has single-handedly created a template to communicate profound truths, although painfully funny, about who we are and how we behave, with little or no words.
If by chance you are not familiar with Karlton Banks, please go to Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, or Twitter and watch his growing catalog of video vignettes of congregational Black church worship life. This young man is known throughout the world for taking snippets of black church culture and re-presenting it in such an authentic way that causes instantly causes the viewer to see themselves (or someone they know) in the action of the video. With Karlton Banks, that there’s no missing the point. He puts our worship habits (good, bad and the ugly) right before us in a way to forces to own who we are through humor. He captures the essence of who we were; who we are; and where we are headed, all in under one minute, sometimes in 15 seconds. For me, he’s more than the guy who makes me laugh once or twice a week at work or on my phone. Karlton Banks is doing the good work of theology. His creativity is infectious. He makes you want to see each video multiple times so you can search for things you did not see in the previous viewing. Isn't this the goal of worship: to create a space where people experience the narrative of God in fresh and unique ways that do not compromise the integrity of the story - but gives us a chance to see it through a different lens each time we encounter it. What can we do to make worship more compelling, using little or no words? After all, actions speak louder than words, right?
As I reflect on his popularity and the impact he has on those of use who claim to be folks of the church, I ask: Is there something in his methodology that can be transferred to how we currently behave in worship? Are there implications for how we preach, sing and communicate the truth of the gospel that can compel and draw others into the narrative of God in similar fashion? Can we learn anything from how #LeLe and the other characters quickly pull us into the action of their on-going drama??? I must say, however, I don't advocate using the middle finger to communicate with ushers in worship - even though some of us love it when it LeLe shares her signature, non-verbal gesture.
#MaybeImThinkingTooDeeply But, maybe something is there. I’m up having my coffee and #thinkingOutLoud I appreciate you, Minister Karlton Banks. Keep up the wonderful work. You have given us permission to laugh at our embedded theology, and yet what you do provides possibilities to think different about how we might engage people to experience worship and the gospel narrative more fully. #ThankYou! #GoesBackToDrinkingCoffeeAndWatchingLeLesClassicEyeRollsicEyeRoll